Photo Source: Erin Stone, Hinterland co.
If you’re clinically depressed or suffer from a diagnosed mental illness, you should see your doctor for the right medical treatment. But sometimes, you need a mood boost, and there are many ways to improve the way you feel without relying on prescription drugs. You might try medicinal cannabis, or you could try many other options.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
First and foremost, it is important to get a good night’s rest. It’s no secret that there is a strong connection between inadequate sleep and irritability. This is magnified in people who have chronic insomnia. Such a condition can result in mood disorders like anxiety and depression. The good news is that this is correctable. The first step is to get into good sleep habits. While it can be hard to overcome sleepless nights, going to bed at the same time every night, and staying in bed for seven or eight hours is achievable. From there, you can look at other habits that affect your sleep, such as caffeine consumption. If you’re drinking three or four cups of coffee per day, or a Venti coffee from Starbucks in the afternoon, then chances are it’s impacting your sleep patterns. If this sounds like you, try to cut back on coffee and drink it after 2 pm.
In addition to sleep loss affecting mood, the reverse is also true. When you are feeling anxious, it’s hard to get a good night’s rest. These feelings of agitation and arousal keep your body running on full alert, and the result is further stress and anxiety and less sleep. For this reason, a lack of sleep is often considered one of the first symptoms of clinical depression. People who have chronic insomnia are as much as five times as likely to develop depression than other people.
Besides maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine, there are other steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep. First, look to reduce other chemicals that may impact your sleep, such as alcohol and nicotine. Next, adjust your environment. Keep your bedroom organized and comfortable. Try not to engage in activities that stimulate your brain too close to bedtime, such as working on your computer. Stop watching the clock after you go to bed. Set the alarm and don’t worry about it going off. And, follow healthy eating habits and don’t consume too much food when it’s close to bedtime.
Eat a Healthy Diet Including Mood Enhancing Foods
In addition to planning your meals so that you’re not eating heavy meals too close to bedtime, the foods you eat can affect your mood. If you suffer from anxiety, then you’ll want to avoid certain foods. Sugary drinks, including soda and energy drinks that contain caffeine, and even fruit juices that lack the fiber of whole fruits are at the top of the list of foods to avoid. You should also avoid highly processed foods like white bread and other starches, glutenous foods like soy sauce, and of course, alcoholic beverages.
On the other hand, there are plenty of foods that you can consume, which can enhance your mood. At the top of the list are fatty fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA, such as salmon and albacore tuna. Fermented foods may help, too, including yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These foods contain probiotics, or good bacteria, that are good for gut health. Also, they may increase serotonin levels, which are directly linked to your mood. Bananas are also helpful due to their high vitamin B6 and fiber levels, which stabilizes your blood sugar levels to level out mood swings. Whole grains like oatmeal and granola are also great mood enhancers. Like bananas, they’re high in fiber, plus they’re high in iron, which helps with fatigue and mood disorders. Additional mood-boosting foods include nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.
Try a Natural Mood Enhancer
Many people who suffer from depression and anxiety will turn to prescription medications. There are plenty of times when this is a necessary step towards wellness. This is especially true for people who have bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. But there are also times when a natural mood enhancer may help. Obviously, it would be best if you spoke with a physician rather than self-medicating. With that in mind, consider a number of plant products and herbal remedies.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or even into a relaxed state of mind, then consider aromatherapy to make your environment more comfortable. Lavender essential oils are a popular option. Besides, you can try some dietary supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, and St. John’s wort. If you want to try something a little stronger, you could try kratom powder. It comes from a tropical tree in the coffee family, but people report its effects slightly differently. Generally, people say that a small amount of yellow Borneo kratom or other popular strains will be a mild stimulant and mood enhancer. However, larger doses are reported to act as a sedative. As with coffee, you’ll want to be mindful of the time of day when you consume it. If you do want to try a natural option at night, then consider a CBD oil tincture.
Keep in mind that products like kratom powder are not approved for consumption by the FDA, and supplements like St. John’s wort can have serious interactions with certain prescription drugs. There are also plant products that have been reported to help with anxiety, but which have also been reported to have serious complications. For example, kava is popular in the Pacific Islands as a ceremonial beverage that helps with anxiety. But, it is also associated with the possibility of liver problems. So, do your research and speak with your doctor before consuming anything that might be dangerous.
Sleep, dietary changes, and controlled supplementation can improve your mood. In major cases, medication can help, too. But if you really want to enhance your mood sustainably, then you should try to exercise regularly. Exercise can help treat depression and anxiety, reducing the likelihood of a recurring episode of depression or anxiety.
When you exercise regularly, your energy levels go up, and you will likely find it easier to sleep at night. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training can help raise serotonin levels and endorphins, translating into an elevated mood. It can also help with your physical appearance and overall health, translating into higher self-esteem and a better overall mood. As an added benefit, exercise can help with your immune system, which means you’ll be sick less often and in a better overall mood.
Exercise has so many benefits to your mood and overall emotional health. Not only will it have a direct impact on your physical health and symptoms, but it can serve to distract you from stress-inducing activities. While you exercise, you can practice clearing your mind of negative thoughts to focus on your activity at hand. This gives you the feeling of control over your own destiny and confidence as you surpass your health and fitness goals.
Keep a Wellness Journal
It’s great to try many of these natural techniques to enhance your mood. You’re an individual with unique needs, and some techniques will work better than others. The best way to track your progress is by keeping a wellness journal. Write a few words down every day to describe your mood, diet, exercise, and supplementation. Eventually, you’ll discover patterns in which activities translate into the best gains and which ones might not be so effective for you. In addition to tracking progress, you’ll be inspired to continue with your newfound, good habits when you keep a journal.
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